Writers of the True North

Helga’s post #21 — Question: If you were on a desert island, which of the remaining books (if you could only have one) would you want to have to re-read over and over? Which of the books would you not mind using for fuel to start a fire?

That was the question put to the panel of judges for this year’s ‘Canada Reads’ contest. For those who didn’t follow it, the five final choices were:

Indian Horse, by Richard Wagamese

The Age of Hope, by Richard Bergen

Away, by Jane Urquhart

Two Solitudes, by Hugh MacLennan

February, by Lisa Moore

The last two were the finalists, with February voted the winner of the 2013 contest. I thought I’d mention this because the topic of ‘reading’, and the importance of finding time for it even in the face of writing deadlines, has come up in a few posts recently.

But more than that, I would like to pay tribute to Canadian books and writers, which is a topic that for some reason has never come up on our blog. Never mind Canadian books and writers, how about BC?

As I listened to CBC Radio this last week, which was abuzz on the ‘Canada Reads’ contest and the Canadian book publishing industry, I learned some fascinating things. For example, did you know that we have over 30 publishers in our province? You can look them up at ABPBC, or the Association of Book Publishers of British Columbia. The site has all kinds of interesting information and tidbits. It says for example that ‘Thousands of books are published in BC every year.’ Wow! I had no idea.

There is more to Canadian Publishing that is worth mentioning. Such as the annual event that celebrates the best crime and mystery writing in Canada. It’s held in Toronto at the end of May, where the Arthur Ellis Awards for Excellence in Canadian Crime Writing is handed out at a gala ceremony. There is an excellent website, ‘Crime Writers of Canada’ with info that could be useful to our group and our followers.

Another useful website is The Canadian Authors Association, subtitled ‘Writers Helping Writers’. Tons of good stuff here.

By the way, did you know that e-books sales are dropping off in favour of print? Apparently, over 90% of books sold are printed. The problem is, there are not enough book stores to sell them directly.

Then there is a story about Margaret Atwood collaborating on some zombie fiction. Atwood has been co-writing a serialized novel entitled The Happy Zombie Sunrise Home  with U.K. writer Naomi Alderman. Their satirical horror story is set in a dystopian future in which some kind of virus has turned many people into zombies and revolves around a no-nonsense, garden-tool-wielding grandmother trying to reconnect with her teenage granddaughter after her mother turns into one of the undead and eats her husband. You can read it online and it’s hilarious (regardless if you are an Atwood fan or not). What I found interesting about this story is how the two writers collaborated (having co-written a novel with friend Paula in the past). Take a peek, it’s worth it.https://i1.wp.com/www.fantasybookreview.co.uk/blog/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/the-happy-zombie-sunrise-home.jpg

All to say, there are lots of unsung heroes of Canadian authors published in our country. They may not have the sales numbers like those published in the US, but perhaps we need to remind ourselves occasionally that writing is not only about numbers.

4 thoughts on “Writers of the True North

  1. Love your topic Helga. Great information and not only positive that we have so many published Canadian authors, but also you are well on the way to being one too! And numbers aren’t everything. We all start from nothing…

  2. Thanks for the great reading suggestions. I must read Atwood on zombies! I’m surprised and thrilled to hear that printed books are on the upsurge, but I’m not surprised at the plethora of writers and publishers in BC. For my Saltspring Island book club, we decided to read one hometown author a year, since we know we have lots of writers living on Saltspring. A search done through our local library revealed 8 pages of published Saltspring authors. Eight pages! Not all book club material, mind you, but still a stunner.

  3. A timely topic, Helga! There are so many great Canadian authors who go unsung in this American-dominated market and I think we have a responsibility to seek out and support them.

    As for Margaret Atwood, I adore some of her books… others were a struggle to read. I *really* don’t like zombie stories so don’t know if I’m likely to ever read hers, although I give her credit for exploring different genres.

    • Carol, I feel the same about Margaret Atwood. She is so in your face! Still, her writing style is awesome, even if I don’t care for all her plots. Thanks for your comment!

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